Washington and Wall Street breathed a sigh of relief today at news that the economic downturn is not, in fact, responsible for a record 5.1 million job losses and an unemployment rate of 8.5%. According to a report just released by the Institute for the Advancement of Middle Management and Human Resource Depletion, a bipartisan think tank funded by Wal-Mart, it is the downtrodden nature of employees themselves that has forced companies to lay them off.
“These are good, solid American companies that subscribe to the bootstrap model, where each American is solely responsible for attaining success beyond his or her wildest dreams,” stated Dr. Lars Lunchbucket, director of the Institute, at a Beltway mixer.
“Obviously, the problem wasn’t the employers,” Dr. Lunchbucket continued, “so we studied the folks they laid off. After deep scientific analysis, we were able to ascertain that each and every one of the 6.14 million Americans now on the unemployment rolls – I believe mathematicians call this 100% – had failed to emulate this model of individual self-actualization. In layman’s terms, they got dumped because they weren’t rich and famous.”
Conversely, Dr. Lunchbucket explained, in a control group of movie stars, Nobel laureates, fascist dictators, and illustrious dead people such as Shakespeare and King Tutankhamen, there were absolutely no layoffs!
Treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner welcomed the Institute’s findings. “I knew that if we kept throwing unwarranted tax dollars at rich and famous CEO’s, sooner or later they’d realize our economy can’t bear the weight of millions upon millions of competent, hardworking Nobodies simply doing their jobs,” stated Geithner. “On the other hand, take someone like Julia Roberts. She’s rich, she’s famous, she really worked for what she has. Especially her face. That girl could walk into any office or factory in America and get any job she wants. Did you see Erin Brockovich? Hell, I’d hire her in a second.”
Jasper Phlegm, senior partner at the heavy-hitting corporate law firm of Shingles, Arse, Smegma, Merde & Beelzebub LLP, disagrees about Julia Roberts, preferring the bygone, halcyon days of Jimmy Stewart. However, Mr. Phlegm says he feels vindicated by the study.
“We just laid off over 50 of our best support staff,” said Mr. Phlegm. “Why? Because they pissed away their little lives buying groceries, driving their kids to cello lessons, paying the light bills. It’s OK to play loveable losers in the movies. I cried watching It’s a Wonderful Life, for god’s sake. But to actually live like that – a Nobody from Nowheresville? Ghastly.”
Ironically, the American public, comprised largely of poor and obscure people who also believe in rugged, bootstrap individualism, appears to accept the study’s findings. Except for a few self-avowed “Bolsheviks” who adhere to a rather arcane theory that the economic system itself is at fault, Americans have demonstrated a palpable lack of outrage at the hemorrhaging of their jobs. Psychologists suggest this response might indicate that, once individuals comprehend that they are not, in reality, rich and famous, they are likely to see themselves as “Nobody.”
“I know I screwed up,” said Biff Longshoreman, 32, who recently lost his job as word processor at Shingles, Arse. “My wife just gave birth to our third kid, and he needs an operation, so I was working 12-hour days when I got downsized. They marched me out of that building like I’d just been caught embezzling – what a wakeup call. All that time, I could have been a contender. Instead of a bum. Let’s face it, that’s what I am.”
Dr. Felicity Sack-Boot, eminent psychologist and author of the bestseller I’m Rich and Famous, You’re Not OK, has argued that self-hatred may actually play a healthy role in helping the unemployed adjust to downward mobility.
“In order for the personality to mature under current societal norms, people today would be wise to embrace a whole new level of hopelessness,” said Dr. Sack-Boot. “We need to learn how to crush our self-esteem to the point where our biggest life goal is to possess the same basic human rights that are typically afforded the average multinational corporation.”
Dr. Lunchbucket concurs, adding that the increasingly popular “Nobody” identity seems to be giving rise to a vibrant “folk” subculture that is perfecting memes of self-expression, such as family-style murder-suicides, squatting in one’s own, foreclosed home, and do-it-yourself kidney transplants.
While this may be acceptable behavior for the unemployed, cautioned Dr. Lunchbucket, people who still have their jobs should try to remain “upbeat” and develop psychological defense mechanisms that prevent depressive “bonding” with the jobless.
“When these people moan and sigh about how they’ve wasted their lives,” Dr. Lunchbucket advised, “It’s important to put their agony in the proper perspective. You need to step up and tell them: ‘It’s capitalism, stupid – you’re supposed to waste your life.’ Then turn away and start visualizing yourself as really, really rich and famous.”
SUSIE DAY can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© SUSIE DAY, 2009